November 21, 2017

The Advocate's Toolbox

Graphic Novels: an Eccentric Ornithologist and a Friendly Shadow | November 2017 Xpress Reviews

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Grolleau, Fabien. Audubon: On the Wings of the World. tr. from French by Etienne Gilfillan. illus. by Jérémie Royer. 184p. bibliog. notes. Flying Eye Books/Nobrow. Apr. 2017. Tr $22.95. ISBN 9781910620151.

Gr 6 Up –Grolleau examines John James Audubon’s life, from his arrival in the United States as a young man living in Kentucky on the edge of the frontier through the early years of his marriage to Lucy Bakewell and the birth of their two children. Lucy is depicted as patient and sympathetic as Audubon sets off to catalog every species of bird in North America. The famed ornithologist’s story is retold in a series of sometimes bizarre vignettes, including bear attacks, shoot-outs with petty thieves, and encounters with runaway slaves, all set against the backdrop of the beautifully illustrated wilds of unsettled America. The creators weave Audubon’s dreamy fantasies with accounts from the artist’s journals as he records the birds of North America and gains the respect of the scientific community. Audubon’s travels often were at the expense of his family and his health, and thus he comes across as complicated and flawed. VERDICT Those drawn to art or nature will appreciate this beautifully illustrated if sometimes bizarre book.–Sarah Lorraine, J. Sterling Morton High School, Cicero, IL

Ly, Ginger. Suee and the Shadow. illus. by Molly Park. 240p. Amulet. Sept. 2017. Tr $21.99. ISBN 9781419725630.

Gr 6 Up –Suee and her father have just moved from Bustle Street in Big City to a small house in Outskirtsville. On her first day at her new school, she hears a strange voice and finds a shadow who offers to be her friend. When Suee wakes up, she can’t remember what happened. But sometimes her shadow comes alive and talks to her. Though she tries to keep to herself, she notices odd things around her; for instance, some of the smaller and weaker students look and act like zombies. As other students attempt to befriend her, Suee realizes that they can help her solve the mystery of her living shadow and figure out why some of the students are turning into mindless “Zeroes.” This multilayered fantasy about shadows, souls, and the blurred line between the living and the dead skillfully tackles friendship, personal growth, and empathy. Slightly dark, it’s ideal for readers who want a gentle dose of spookiness. Like Vera Brosgol’s Anya’s Ghost, which also centers on a protagonist coping with tensions at school and a paranormal problem, the book features a monochromatic palette and strong, clean lines. VERDICT For readers who enjoy a mix of realistic and paranormal fiction or creepy and thought-provoking tales.–Andrea Lipinski, New York Public Library

This article was published in School Library Journal's November 2017 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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